Children and adolescents diagnosed with depression may be at increased risk for physical diseases and premature death as young adults, researchers report.
For a study published in JAMA Psychiatry, researchers used Swedish health registries to track a group of 1,487,964 children, of whom 37,185 were diagnosed with depression between ages 5 and 19. The investigators followed the group until they ranged in age from 17 to 31.
Of 69 physical diseases they were able to track, people with depression had a higher risk for 66 of them, even after controlling for other psychiatric illnesses.
For example, compared to their peers who were not depressed, they had eight times the risk of sleep disorders, more than three times the risk of liver disease, and nearly five times the risk of thyroid illness.
Boys had higher risks than girls for most diseases, but both boys and girls with depression had a rate of all-cause mortality six times as high as those without depression. Their rate of suicide was 14 times as high, and deaths from natural causes more than twice as high, as their peers who were not depressed.
“Our observational study can’t address whether this is causal,” said the lead author, Marica Leone, a Ph.D. student at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. “We need further research to determine that. But physicians need to look for other diseases, and not just psychiatric disorders, that flow from youth depression.”